Friday, May 08, 2009

Malupenga petitions Banda over harassment of Post journalists

Malupenga petitions Banda over harassment of Post journalists
Written by George Chellah
Friday, May 08, 2009 5:03:14 PM

POST managing editor Amos Malupenga has petitioned President Rupiah Banda to intervene in the continued harassment of Post journalists by ruling MMD cadres.

In his letter to the President dated May 6, 2009, which was copied to Inspector General of Police Francis Kabonde, MMD national secretary Katele Kalumba, information minister Lieutenant General Ronnie Shikapawsha and the Press Freedom Committee of The Post (PFC), Malupenga complained that the cadres' acts of violence against Post journalists were calculated to silence them.

"On behalf of the editorial management, I write to bring to Your Excellency's attention the continued and unwarranted harassment, by MMD cadres, of our journalists when they are assigned to cover events where Your Excellency is present, particularly at the various airports in the country when Your Excellency is either flying out or flying in. This has been going on for some time now," Malupenga stated.

"Various people, including ourselves, have condemned these calculated acts of violence by Your Excellency's party cadres. In one particular incident in Chipata on February 28, 2009, our photojournalist Thomas Nsama was assaulted by the cadres for reasons best known to themselves. This matter was reported to the police, who up to now have not acted. For the avoidance of doubt, find enclosed photographs of MMD cadres assaulting our photojournalist Thomas Nsama on February 28, 2009, in Chipata.

"Earlier, on February 26, 2009, a group of MMD cadres threatened to beat up our journalists who had gone to cover Your Excellency's address to the cadres at State House. Our Copperbelt-based journalists - Mutuna Chanda, Mwila Chansa and Abigail Chaponda -have been physically and verbally harassed from time to time by MMD cadres for reasons that Your Excellency's party leadership seem to understand better. On Saturday May 2, 2009, our journalists -George Chellah and Eddie Mwanaleza- who were assigned to cover Your Excellency's return from a state visit in Zimbabwe were prevented from carrying out their duties. In fact, George Chellah and Eddie Mwanaleza had to flee Lusaka City Airport to protect their lives. They were hounded by MMD cadres hungry for their blood."

Malupenga stated that this situation was unfortunate and regrettable.

"We do not understand what wrong our journalists have committed. If there is anything wrong we have done, we believe there are several ways available to have these wrongs addressed. Since these ways are being avoided by MMD cadres, we would not be wrong to conclude that their intention is to cow our journalists into submission; they want to stop them from performing their duties diligently and professionally," Malupenga stated. "It must be mentioned that Your Excellency is a national asset and not an MMD property. Therefore, all journalists are supposed to have unhindered access to Your Excellency if they have to inform the public accurately and objectively. These cadres claim that their actions to physically and verbally abuse our journalists are in their quest to defend and protect Your Excellency.

"It is for this reason that we are writing to request Your Excellency to intervene in this matter and advise the cadres, in your capacity as party president, to desist from these acts of violence and use civil ways to resolve differences or problems, if any."

Malupenga reminded President Banda of the public statements he has made in the past condemning violence.

"We recall that from time to time, Your Excellency has made public statements condemning violence from whatever quarters. This being the case, we are fortified to conclude that Your Excellency will condemn any acts of violence regardless of who the perpetrator is," stated Malupenga.

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